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"Secret" Edges

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  • "Secret" Edges

    This is a weird idea that popped into my head today... a new category of Edge called a Secret Edge. It's something that a player can choose for their character, but even they don't know what it does. It's something that a GM can use that plays into the over-arching storyline of a campaign that a player can take advantage of, but having it explained beforehand would be a spoiler.

    Of course to get a player to go along with this, it would probably have to be a definitely good edge that, when it comes into play, would be meaningful to the character and the story.

    For example, a Secret Edge in a zombie apocalypse game could be, say, Immunity to the Virus. A player can decide to take this secret edge without knowing beforehand that it really does. They don't even know that it's Virus Immunity. They just know that one of their edges will come into play later. When they get bitten, then the edge is revealed, however far into the campaign that happens.

    Maybe to sweeten the pot and get more players to buy into such an idea, taking the Edge has the immediate benefit of acting like the Luck edge. For taking a secret edge, they get an extra benny.

    I'm not sure I'm explaining this well, and it's obviously something I just thought up and haven't fleshed out very well yet...
    'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: 'we're all mad here.'

    The Order of the Dice... OF DOOM!

  • #2
    So kinda like a McGuffin or Plot Armor for players?
    Hmm, there might be some meat to the idea, but I have some large concerns as well.

    Is the ability decided ahead of time by the GM, or is it something that is randomly evoked whenever the need arises? In other words, when the player takes the Edge, does the GM need to think up something and secretly jot it down, hoping whatever it is comes up in game... or can the player take the Edge, and let it sit there like a black mark on the character sheet until they give it a definition when the character needs saving of some sort?

    Going with the ZomApoc setting, suppose a player finds themself in a situation where they need to eat some really nasty, rotting food or risk dying from starvation. Luckily they have Secret Edge, and evoke it to give themselves a Iron Stomach, able to eat gross food without a Vigor roll and gain sustanence from it. Up to that point the Edge was useless... a fast car with three wheels. Part of the benefit of the Edge is being able to pull your hide out of a bad situation when you desparately need it.

    If in case of the former, where the GM decides ahead of time, you are placing a lot of trust in the GM to not come up with a crap ability. In the ZomApoc game, the Edge is quite enticing as it might be viral immunity, so everyone takes it. Now the GM needs to come up with a few different things... and not all of them can be immunity. Heck, it took me a couple minutes to think up the Iron Belly one. If I had to do that three or four more times, I'd begin to think it was a bad idea to include the Edge.

    You also have the inevitable possibility of players becoming bitter over who got the better ability. Maybe have them draw the ability from a hat or something, I dunno. Treating the Edge like temporary Luck sounds balancing enough on the surface... but again, there's a lot of faith that the "real" Edge is anywhere near on par. You might end up with situations where the player would rather just have the Luck Edge (and if you've already Plot-armored them, it might be hard to reverse the decision).

    I also can't help thinking that Bennies+Elan kinda already does this to a lesser extent. Need to fight off food poison? Spend a Benny and eat that quik-e-mart hotdog. Need to not turn into a zombie? Well, maybe you just got lucky because of [insert reason].

    I don't want to sound callus, it's a neat idea. But it might better be served in a specific setting (such as one that relies heavily on fate or randomness) than in more general fare.